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Twitter fires employees as Musk blames activists for ‘massive’ drop in ad revenue

Twitter fires employees as Musk blames activists for 'massive' drop in ad revenue
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  • Musk rakes in around half of the Twitter workforce
  • Employees file class action lawsuit against Twitter
  • Employees lose access to systems
  • Big advertisers pull ads

November 4 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc laid off half of its workforce on Friday but said cuts in the team responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation have been smaller as advertisers amid concerns about the moderation of Content cut expenses.

Tweets from employees at the social media company said teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics were gutted, as were some product and development teams.

The move caps a week of chaos and uncertainty over the company’s future under new owner Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, who tweeted on Friday that the service was suffering a “massive drop in revenue” from advertiser withdrawals.

Musk blamed the losses on a coalition of civil rights groups that have pressured Twitter’s top advertisers to take action if he fails to protect content moderation – concerns mounting ahead of Tuesday’s potentially crucial congressional election.

Following the layoffs, the groups said they would escalate their pressure, with demanding brands withdrawing their Twitter ads worldwide.

“Unfortunately, when the company is losing over $4 million a day, there is no other choice,” Musk tweeted about the layoffs, adding that all affected were offered three months’ severance pay.

The company remained silent on the depth of the cuts until late in the day, when its head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, confirmed it internal plansAs seen by Reuters earlier in the week, the forecast layoffs would affect about 3,700 people, or 50% of the workforce.

Among those laid off were 784 employees from the company’s San Francisco headquarters and 199 from San Jose and Los Angeles, according to filings filed with the California Labor Department.

Roth said the cuts affected about 15% of his team responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation and other harmful content, and that the company’s “core moderation capabilities” remained.

Musk endorsed the security officer last week, citing his “high integrity” after Roth was confronted years ago for tweeting critical of former President Donald Trump.

Musk promised that restore freedom of speech while preventing Twitter from descending into a “hellscape”.

President Joe Biden said Friday Musk bought Twitter, a social media platform that spreads lies around the world.

“And now what we’re all worried about: Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that broadcasts – that spits out lies around the world… There are no more editors in America. There are no editors. How can we expect children to be able to do this? understand what’s going on?”

Major Advertisers have been raising concerns about Musk’s acquisition for months.

Brands like General Motors Co (GM.N) and General Mills Inc (GIS.N) have said they have stopped advertising on Twitter while awaiting information on the platform’s new direction.

Musk tweeted that his team made no changes to content moderation and “did everything we could” to appease the groups. At an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk called the pressure from activists “an attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

ACCESS TO SYSTEMS CUT

The email notifying employees of layoffs was the first communication Twitter employees received from company leadership after Musk took over last week. It was signed only by “Twitter” without naming Musk or other executives.

Dozens of employees tweeted they lost access to work email and Slack channels overnight before receiving an official layoff notice Friday morning, sparking a spate of lawsuits from current and former employees on the platform they built.

They shared blue hearts and greeting emojis to show their support for each other, and used the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, a past version of a slogan employees used for years to celebrate the company’s work culture.

Twitter’s curation team responsible for “highlighting and contextualizing the best events and stories unfolding on Twitter” has been eliminated, staffers wrote.

Shannon Raj Singh, a lawyer who was deputy head of Twitter’s human rights practice, tweeted that the company’s entire human rights team had been fired.

Another team focused on researching Twitter’s use of machine learning and algorithms, a topic that was a priority for Musk, was also eliminated, according to a tweet from a former senior executive at Twitter.

Senior executives, including Vice President of Technology Arnaud Weber, bid farewell on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of potential, but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Employees at Twitter Blue, the premium subscription service Musk supports, were also laid off. An employee named “SillyRobin,” who said he was fired, quoted a previous Musk tweet as saying that Twitter Blue would include a “paywall bypass” for certain publishers.

“Just to be clear, he fired the team working on this,” the clerk said.

DOORS LOCKED

Twitter said in its email to employees that offices would be temporarily closed and access to ID cards suspended “to ensure the security of all employees, as well as Twitter systems and customer data.”

The London and Dublin offices appeared deserted on Friday, with no staff in sight. At the London office, all evidence that Twitter once occupied the building has been erased.

A receptionist at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said a few people came in and worked on the floors above, despite requests to stay away.

A class action lawsuit was filed on Thursday by several employees who argued that the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day notice, which violates federal and California laws.

The lawsuit asked the San Francisco federal court to enter an order barring Twitter from requiring fired employees to sign documents without notifying them of the pending case.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Katie Paul in Palo Alto, California, and Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Rusharti Mukherjee, Aditya Kalra, Martin Coulter, Hyunjoo Jin, Supantha Mukherjee and Arriana McLymore; writing from Matt Scuffham and Katie Paul; Edited by Kenneth Li, Jason Neely, Matthew Lewis and William Mallard

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Father Dave

Thomson Reuters

Tech reporter from the San Francisco Bay Area covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. Joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times focusing on the local technology industry.

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